13 Aug 2017

Facebook is essentially misanthropic

I have had multiple bouts of doubt about Facebook, its business model, and its impact on users, but this essay brings new light to my fears of how it will monetize you.

In May 2010, I suggested two options:
  1. FB starts to charge a membership fee or goes fremium... [but Facebook promises "free and always will be," which brings us to...]
  2. FB struggles with free and ads. Maybe it shuts down, but then it goes rogue. All of that data you gave FB when you were 20, inexperienced, foolish and frequently photographed? FB is going to come back, when you are 30 or 40 and ask for a payment, to keep it private. That's because FB never really deletes your data when you tell them to "cancel your membership."
And now I see -- after reading that essay, that FB has essentially "gone rogue" with your personal data to not just target you with ads, but follow you everywhere you go on the internet (and with a mobile phone connection), to sell your profile to merchants who can then price discriminate against you -- and you may not even know they are getting private data on you.

That's why the essayist writes:
"Facebook, in fact, is the biggest surveillance-based enterprise in the history of mankind."
Bothered by this? You can quit Facebook (hard for people like when my work has failed to set up a communications system and uses Facebook instead), or minimize your vulnerability by, for example, keeping your mobile phone number to yourself (and not using FB mobile), as well as posting as little demographic information (age, address, hobbies, schools) as possible. (And switch as soon as possible to a less-invasive social network.)

Bottom line: There's a monopolist that is using your digital profile to take money from your pocket and redirect your life to suit the goals of advertisers. Caveat emptor.
Addendum (24 Feb 2018): Facebook failing: "As a society, we feel like we’re at war with a computer algorithm, and the only winning move is not to play," how a membership model results in content that helps you, and why Facebook won't ever change

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